Gender and Engenderment - The Declaration of Women’s Independence (Nineveh 2013 vol. 1)
By: Helen Talia, MBA, CPA
Publish Date: 7/4/2013
"The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights." Gloria Steinem
Since “The Fall of Man” (Genesis 3:1-24) “Adam” from his glory at the hands of Eve in the Garden of Eden, women have been marred with the responsibility of the original sin and eventually the death of all mankind that followed.
But in ancient civilizations such as the Sumerians (3500-1750 B.C.) and in Hinduism (2000 B.C.), where spirituality was more customary, women were regarded in high esteem and hailed as deities, mainly due their ability to procreate. Yet as man strayed away from spirituality and scrimmaged into organized religions, the divine being engendered a male-image (one supreme being), ruler of all, heaven and earth. The dominance that birthed Judeo-Christian, and later Islam, three domineering religions, all founded in the Middle-East, gave way to the very woman, once hailed, to became the ultimate sacrifice – veiling, stoning, honor killing, Female Genital Mutilation (“FGM”)… “The Stoning of Soraya” began!
“Thou Shalt Not Kill” (Exodus 20:13) – During His first debut in the Sixth Commandment, God clearly commanded man not to kill (“The Ten Commandments”), to which Judaism (Old Testament) and Christianity (Old and New Testament) adhere. Yet, honor killing has consistently been practiced, precisely in the Muslim religion, followed by the Christian.
A first time for everything – More than ten years ago during the attendance of flocks of devout Assyrian worshippers to a religious pilgrimage to Holy Hill, Wisconsin to honor the blessed Mother Mary, there sat a man, who, in his delirious speech, was systematically putting women down. Not too keen about hearing this information, I spoke up! Pathetically pointing to his shoe, he followed by stating that all women are created below a man’s feet, and that opinionated women, such as myself, would raise men who would grow up to become cocaine addicts (I‘m not sure where the correlation there was!). After what appeared to be a brief debate to defend one’s self-absorbed point-of-view, which did not sit too well with this character, he spoke of yet further nonsense. To my astonishment, later on I learned that this angry man had killed his first wife back in Iraq, and in lieu of his “honor killing,” his only punishment was serving a mere three-month jail sentence.
Second time is not a charm – The story was of a Christian Iraqi man whose sister had married a Muslim Kurd had been willed by his family to execute her death in the manner of honor killing. Naturally, upon hearing this story, I declared that according to the Christian doctrines, it was wrong to have taken a human life. A moment of clarity followed! The story was being told by a man and now I was targeted for having a view and alerted that if I had been in Iraq, I’d be killed too! Guilty by “default” association, I suppose.
“Life of Pi” – The savagery on women continues… last year In India, a 23-year old female Physiotherapy student was gang-raped on a New Delhi bus by six men, including the bus driver, and degutted through an L-shaped iron rod that was inserted into her body to be used for penetration and later pulled out with so much force that the act also brought out her intestines. Doctors could not save her; she died thirteen days later.
The daunting twist of these stories is that not only women’s rights continue to be violated, but also the opinions of others, when given, solicited or otherwise, are pooled alongside guilt and ridicule. In summary, killing continues to be, not only of the flesh, but of the genuine idealisms and unique characteristics of women, which, in my personal interpretation, is no lesser a crime than breaking the Sixth Commandment.
Unmasking a man’s social identity, it is clear that ambiguity exists at every socio-economic class, including the white collar cast. In fact, even those men who hide behind the façade of conservatism – schizophrenic marriages, expensive name tag education, big corporate titles, often turn into alley cats after the dark, seeking adultery, at times even incest that is swept under the rug, at every corner whenever possible, in an effort to rekindle the flames of their lifeless marriages, by preying on women who are viewed as more likely to be “approachable” and singled out as “fair game” by strangers who seduce them into false courtships.
Women in Power – From India’s former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi (1917-1984), Israel’s former Prime Minister Golda Meir (1898-1978), to Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, whose political spark came to a halt following her tragic death in 2007, these women, despite being surrounded by patriarchal societies, and whose careers were many a times faced with uncertainties, obstacles and isolation, had the prowess to rise to power.
Women who take on social issues are likely to be more outspoken and have a proactive approach that offer change in preset systems, yet are also quickly shunned and cast out by their societies which lack democracy in their backbones. And it is in these same climates that you will find the only women who climax to power are the ones who stand on the crutches of men.
Societal thrusts – No doubt, Assyrian, a Middle-Eastern culture , is not immune to the ongoing battlefield that devours women; thereby, her unsupportive environment is biased to her human rights and blinded to her feminine needs on many levels, and the impressionable affect on her gender role within her society.
For centuries, the Assyrians, and other Christians, have blamed their short-come audacities of chauvinism and racism on having lived alongside the Muslims for far too long, but the truth is that Christianity is a religion that was adopted by this race, no more than the importance of wearing one’s own responsibility.
Having no historical account of democracy (Greek (δημοκρατία) "rule of the people,"
6th Century B.C.), violence against women is widespread in societies that still live in the middle ages. Similarly, having no formal outlet to speak of the suffrages of women, facts remain the same.
Until one shares in the responsibility of his or her own behavior, and the necessary social revolution takes place, women, society’s other very important half, will remain second class citizens, and their generosity, gentleness and wisdom, prevalent for the progression of any nation, will never be fully realized.Article previously published in The Chicago Tribune